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Hartselle High School clarinet players Piper Nosal and Marissa Carden rehearse Monday.
Daily photo by Brennen Smith
Hartselle High School clarinet players Piper Nosal and Marissa Carden rehearse Monday.

Hartselle band to participate in New York veterans parade

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Like a football coach standing over his team in preparation for an important game, Randall Key mapped out the Hartselle High band strategy.

"You've got to plan," he told them between practicing songs. "This is important. You've got to be ready."

This wasn't a speech about a marching competition or about Hartselle's state playoff game with Cullman on Friday.

It was about the band's trip to New York to perform in the Veterans Day Parade. When the 77 students march down the streets of New York City on Nov. 11, it will be a history-making day for Hartselle.

"No band from this school has ever participated in this parade," said Key, a 1989 Hartselle graduate who carried a Cullman band to the parade when he was director there.

Known as the "nation's parade," the Veterans Day Park has been organized in New York since 1929. More than 20,000 annually participate in the event, which starts with a wreath-laying ceremony at the eternal flame in Madison Square Garden.

The 2.2-mile route for Hartselle will start near Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street and end at 59th Street.

Most bands will play one song, but Key has decided that Hartselle will play "Tribute to America" and "Marines' Hymn."

While they know the purpose of the parade, the band members are also aware that they are making school history.

"I'm ecstatic," said Leslie Williams, a sophomore saxophone player who will make her first trip to New York. "We're going to perform in front of a lot of people, plus this is a very prestigious parade."

Band Vice President Seth Turner is making his third trip to New York and his second for a band-related function.

The junior traveled to New York when his sister, Kalah, was a band member. But, he argues with pride, this trip is more important.

"I've ragged her a little about this band getting to play in this parade," Turner said.

Bowl Games of America, a company that books entertainment for parade and bowl games, invited Hartselle to the parade.

Key, who has been Hartselle's director four years, talked with the booking company while attending the Midwest Band Director's Clinic in Chicago.

"This had been such a positive experience for my band at Cullman that I wanted to the kids at Hartselle to have the same experience," he said.

Hartselle's application was so impressive, Bowl Games of America approved it in less than a month.

Since May, the students attending the parade have raised $800 each for the bus journey to New York.

"It makes you feel good when people slap you on the back and tell you how much they appreciate you coming," Key said about his previous trip.

He described the patriotism as "unreal" and said Hartselle is ready for the trip.

"This band is ready to represent our community," Key said. "We've worked really hard. This is the biggest thing this band has done."

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